As is the case with any new acquisition, the hiring of Bruce Boudreau for the Minnesota Wild has come with it's share of questions. Undoubtedly, the largest question mark around Bruce is his playoff record. Does our dear Brucie have what it takes to get over that last elusive hurdle with the Wild?
If I was clairvoyant I might be able to provide you a more concise premonition on such matters, as well as the winning numbers to the next big lotto investment opportunity. Alas, I am not.
There are two ingredients to every successful playoff team. The players and the coaches. Even the greatest of coaches will lose games, just like even the greatest of players will lose as well. Wayne Gretzky is known across the world as "The Great One", but in his 20 NHL seasons he was only to hoist the Stanley Cup 4 times. Only 4, right? What a slacker! I guess nobody is perfect.
There's really no reason to believe Boudreau can't steer this ship right to the promised land. There's no reason to believe he can either. His playoff record is right there, plain as day, for all to dissect. 41-39 all time in the playoffs, and just 1-7 in game sevens.
So what gives? Is he cursed? Has his offerings and sacrifice to the hockey gods been lite over the years, causing them to smite him in the post-season only? Or maybe, and I know this will be a stretch for some of you to believe, but just maybe it's nothing at all.
Some people out there are throwing around comparisons to Marty Schottenheimer, who coached in the NFL and had a tendency to enjoy regular season success, yet never made any noise in the playoffs. I cannot comprehend this comparison. I understand the parallels in post-season and regular-season records, but these are two entirely different sports. The playoff format in the NHL is vastly different than the NFL as well. You cannot compare the two coaches without first throwing all logic out the window. I'm unwilling to depart from logic under any circumstance, so I dismiss your comparison entirely.
Here's the thing, every season there are 29 teams in the NHL that lose. Breaking News: Winning the Stanley Cup is hard work folks! A goal here, a save there, Boudreau's playoff or game 7 record turns around. He has coached some amazing players in his career in the NHL, so if you're looking to blame somebody for game 7 losses, look at Alex Ovechkin, look at Correy Perry, look at Nicklas Backstrom, look at Ryan Getzlaf, look at Clayton Stoner. Maybe if Stoner spent more time shooting pucks instead of shooting bears, Boudreau would still be in Anaheim. I guess I should be thanking him in that regard.
The thing about the playoffs are, they are a crapshoot. Game 7 especially. There's a reason we play the games and we don't just hand the Presidents trophy winners the cup every season. In the West, the top two seeds went to a seventh game to decide who goes to the Western Conference Finals, and the top seed lost that game. Is Lindy Ruff now a bad coach in the playoffs for getting completely dismantled in a game 7 by the Blues? Of course not! Meanwhile, the 3, 4, and 5 seeds are golfing, the 6th and 7th seeds are going to game 7 as well. In the East, the 2nd seeded Penguins just beat the Presidents Trophy winning Capitals in 6 games. It's not as simple as win the division/conference, win the cup.
Yes, it's your coaches job to put a team in a position to win. That's exactly what Boudreau does. There's no magic elixr in the playoffs. There's no drastic changes that you can make to change the outcome of a series. Season after season this guy's teams win games. To think he's never going to coach a team deep into the playoffs is preposterous. I'm not going to sit here and make a sweeping declaration that he brings the Stanley Cup to Minnesota. But we really hit the jackpot with this hire.
I know it can be tough to get excited about hockey after your team is eliminated. It's far too easy to be pessimistic about the world during these times. Bruce Boudreau is far and away the best option the Wild could have hoped for given the available coaches out there. If his playoff record has you worried, just forget about it. Either he does better than he did before, or he performs exactly as this team has already. I for one am looking forward to all the ups and downs in the coming years. Plus, Boudreau looks just like my derpy dog Ciccarelli! What's not to like about this guy!